“Ranging from crude clay cups used by the ‘mound builders’ to the latest sanitary nursing bottle, baby-feeding gadgets collected as a hobby by Dr. D. Edward Overton, of Garden City, N.Y., record 500 years of history.”
Brooks, Walter, 1940.
“Our monumental work on the Theory of Gadgets which has been, as they say, on the stocks for twenty years, is nearing completion. But so, apparently, is civilization [gallows humor in the lead-up to war…]. And in case our publication date does not succeed in anticipating the final crash of Armageddon, we would like to give you a few hints of what these volumes would have contained. / Everybody knows what a gadget is, and yet a definition is hard to find. After deep thought, we give you this: A gadget is anything which, designed to simplify life, actually complicates it. We are fully aware that this definition is almost revolutionary in its comprehensiveness. Yet it is tenable. It includes everything from a battleship to a fountain pen. It includes the cigarette lighter that is always running dry, the electric icebox that springs a sulphur leak when eight guests are waiting for cocktails, the automatic shocke that saves two seconds in starting your car every day for thirty days, and on the thirty-first robs you of two hours of your time and two dollars of your money. It includes most of the things you give your friends for Christmas, And [sic] all that you get. / In our chapter on Man and the Gadget, we show how man, the eternal sucker, progresses from enthusiasm to disillusion, repeatedly, all his life long–for the gadget has no experience value. Elsewhere we estimate the time and money spent on the invention, manufacture, sale, operation, and final frenzied destruction of gadgets. We list al known gadgets, showing the difference between promise and performance. And finally, we paint a picture of a gadget-less Utopia, with a few practical hints on how to attain it. / The difficulty in completing this work has been in our gadget-testing department. For obviously, if a single gadget is really found to simplify life, it nullifies our whole argument. And new gadgets appear daily. We were ready this morning to write finis–when we read of the new false teeth plates which have magnets set in them, with like poles opposing, to keep upper and lower plates apart and in place. We have always insisted on doing all testing ourself. Yet we still retain most of our original teeth, and are reluctant to sacrifice them, even to add the final proof to our theory. For if the magnets don’t work, we have, it is true, the proof, but are just where we were before, and with nothing to chew with. And if they do work, a lifetime of effort is undone.”
Peck, James L.H., 1940.
“The “Stuka’s” deflector fork is the bomb rack gadget which lowers the 1100- or 550-pound bomb so that it will clear the arc of the propeller blades when released. The bomb is carried snuggled up against the center section of the wing to diminish air resistance. When the pilot makes ready to dive, the rack is extended.”
“This is the only way I can keep abreast of the terrific pace that the gadgeteers set for me. My shop is filled with these so called aids to better pictures. If you go for truck-loads of trinkets … this is YOUR heaven … or haven. I’ve got them all listed in my new and beautifully illustrated Still Camera Bargaingram No. 242.”
“How that many important cine accessories are unavailable because of war restrictions placed upon their manufacture, building our own gadgets assumes greater importance as one of the most enjoyable phases of our hobby. Fortunately, most of us still have materials in our garage or workshop junk piles with which to make a camera gadget or an accessory for titling or editing our films. “
“After all,’ says the concluding sentence in the foreword to an instruction booklet for one of the Filmo cameras, ‘we made the camera, so first try our way of using it.’ There’s a lot of common sense back of that, obvious though it may appear to be. Over-confidence and eagerness to get going with the new outfit frequently induces people of newly purchased cameras to use the camera before they have read the instructions. The consequence too often is that something jams because some little gadget was not properly adjusted, although reference to a single line in the instructions would have avoided the accident.”
Deschlin, Jacob, 1940.
“I find that the time can be relied on well within one minute. The glass flask was resorted to in order to protect all essential parts from the birds, who seemed to feel that I had made a gadget for their special benefit. The neck of the flask and a part of the sphere were removed with a ‘biscuit cutter’ (simply a cylinder of sheet metal) and abrasive. The plate of the clock, having nearly twice the radius of the sphere, was spun to its required curvature. All the machining was done on a wood-working lathe and drill press in the pattern shop here at The California Institute of Technology. Figure 5 is a photograph of an other spherical globe sun-clock made earlier and partly similar. […] The clock to be described is about my tenth design and its performance has been so satisfactory that I have decided to call it quits and turn the information over to those who may wish to have a gadget in their gardens demonstrating an interesting problem in celestial mechanics.”
“Woodcraft. By Bernard S. Mason. A comprehensive book on woodcraft. Trail shelters, teepees, bark shelters, beds, duffel, fire-craft, campfire gadgets, axmanship, caches, barkcraft, woodcraft rope and cordage, woodcraft knick-knacks, woodsy furniture and camp fixings, calumets, rawhide, buckskin, horn, feathers, gourds, tin-can-craft, totem poles–these indicate the scope, which is braider than in similar books. The emphasis is heavily on Indian lore and on the practical: how to do and make.”
West-Sackville, Victoria, 1940.
“What an odd little word ‘gadget’ is, almost a gadget in itself, so small and useful. Its origin is obscure and is believed not to appear in print before 1886. Yet it is not, as might be though, an Americanism. It appears as an expression used chiefly by seamen, meaning any small tool, contrivance, or piece of mechanism not dignified by any specific name; a what-not, in fact; a chicken-fixing, a gill-guy, a timmey-noggy, a wim-wom. I commend these agreeable synonyms to Mr. Clarence Elliott’s notice, and at the same time record my gratitude for his revival of that other sea-0faring word, manavlins. I wonder how many English-speaking people are familiar with its meaning?” (197). “I mistrust gadgets, generally speaking. They seldom work. The proved, old-fashioned tool is usually better and it is safer to stick to it. I thus make a rule of throwing all tempting catalogues of gardening gadgets straight into the waste-paper basket, not daring to examine them first, because I know that if I examine them I shall fall. It will mean only that I shall with some trouble obtain a postal order for 10s. 6d., to acquire an object which will speedily join similar objects rusting in the tool shed. It should be clear from this that my mistrust of gadgets is equalled only by my weakness for them, and that no amount of experience can make me find them anything but irresistible” (196). Among her favorite gadgets: “Then there is the long narrow trowel of stainless steel and it s associate the two-pronged hand fork, both unrivaled for weeding in between small plants, though perhaps there is no tool so well adapted for this purpose as the old table knife with the stump of a broken plaid.” (196) But the “perfect gadget” is the “widger” – “the neatest, slimmest, and cheapest of all gadgets to carry in the pocket. Officially the widget is Patent No. 828793, but it owes (I believe) its more personal name to the ingenuity of Mr. Clarence Elliott, whose racy gardening style ought to be more widely appreciated. He invented the widger, its name, and the verb to wig, which, although not exactly onomatopoeic, suggests very successfully the action of prising up–you wig up a weed, or wig up a caked bit of soil for the purpose of aerating it–all very necessary operations which before the arrival of the widget were sometimes awkward to perform. This small sleek object, four inches long, slides into the pocket, no more cumbersome than a pencil, and may be put to many uses. Screwdriver, toothpick, letter-opener, widger, it fulfils [sic] all functions throughout the day. Its creator, Mr. Elliot, I observe, spells it sometimes with a ‘y’: wydger, no doubt on the analogy of Blake’s Tyger, just to make it seem more unusual. Whatever the spelling, it is the perfect gadget” (197). Next chapter, “Tool-shed”: “Different from gadgets are the time-honored tools which hang in the dusty brown twilight of the tool-shed when their day’s work is done. The wood of their handles is as tawny as the arms of men who use them: the have a sun-burnt air. The steel of spuds, forks, and trowels glistens quietly as though it were resting; it has been in contact with the earth all day, and recalls the old expedient of plunging a dirty knife-blade into the soil and withdrawing it restored to a brightness like the flash of Excalibur. The prongs of forks are burnished as bayonets, the curve of hooks gleaming as sabers. The big wooden trudges repose peacefully across the handles of the barrow. The long handles of rakes and hoes dangle in rows, symmetrical as Uccello’s lances. There is a shelf with all the odd accumulation of labels, green string, hedging-gloves, old tobacco tins full of saved seeds. A hank of yellow bass hangs from a nail, blond as corn. The flower-pots are piled, tier upon tier, red as a robin’s breast. Red and brown, green and golden, steely as armor, dusty as snuff, the tool-shed deepens in shadow as the respite of evening shuts the door and leaves the small interior to the mouse” (199).”
“Our man in charge of detecting trade-marks reports a wide-spread craze for compounds ending in “matic.” The word ‘automatic’ is presumably the father to these coinages, since they all seem intended to carry a connotation of self-propulsion. It is not a new idea. Oil-O-Matic, which may have been the first, has been the trade-mark for the Williams oil burner for a number of years. Within the last twelve months or so, however, the style has suddenly and for no apparent reason become extravagantly popular. / The automobile industry has been particularly prolific along these lines. One manufacturer feathers the Hydramatic drive, another the Electromatic clutch, another Powermatic shifting, a fourth the Simplimatic transmission. The newest models bring the Liquimatic drive and the Turbo-matic drive. / The vogue is also extensive in the electrical appliance field. Examples include the Vis-O-Matic, Aire-Matic and Attach-O-Matic sweepers; the Laundrimatic, Spira-Matic and ABC-O-Matic washers; the Electro-Matic and Touch-O-Matic radios. There is a Tel-A-Matic iron, and also an Adjust-O-Matic and a Steam-O-Matic. The Ade-O-Matic keeps things warm on the Center-Matic stove while the Coffeematic processes the java. Workers in industry ply Multi-matic and Camatic tools, while the Shift-o-matic is an electric typewriter carriage return. / Miscellaneous adaptations privilege the consumer to ride on Seal-O-Matic inner tubes; to sit hygienically in a Postur-Matic chair; to wear Glide-O-Matic arch resters while pushing a baby cab equipped with an Adjustmatic gear. What’s more you can painlessly purchase any or all of the above articles on the Buy-O-Matic loan plan. And if there is anything left for taxes, you can figure the amount with the Tax-O-Matic income tax chart. / It could have been considered inevitable that somebody would come up with Matho-Matic. Sure enough, somebody did. It’s the name for the nozzle on the Premier vacuum cleaner. So far as we know, Roomatic remains unclaimed. / P.S. At this very moment, Junior may be at large with the recently introduced Squirt-O-Matic water pistol.”
“To fight for democracy and against Hitlerism, we have turned our factories into arsenals–conscious that we are about to deprive ourselves of some of our most-prized comforts. We are diverting our iron and copper and aluminum to the making of guns and tanks and planes and ships to be used in the defense of democracy. … As Christmas approaches, everyone will feel it more and more. Santa Claus will be on hand, but he’ll have to deal out Defense Bonds instead of gadgets.” (1) Included in this list of “luxuries and semiluxuries” to be transmuted into wartime use: nylon and rayon stockings for powderbags and parachutes, and cotton stockings become fashionable. Automobile factories reduce car production by 50%. Steel and other raw materials diverted. “And although the first 1942 models off the assembly line have the usual chromium trim and gadgets, when these supplies are used up there won’t be any more.” (2) “On the search for defense jobs are the salesmen who have made their living from passenger cars, electric appliances, refrigerators, washing machines, and other non-defense machines which are comfortable and useful but not now as essential as planes and guns and tanks and ships. The factories which have been producing this rich stream of comforts are looking for defense contracts.” (2) Retooling in automobile plants, for instance, takes 6-8 months. “On the basis of these two quick surveys, OPM certifies to the War and Navy departments the facts it finds–that half or more of Jonesville’s industrial workers are about to lose their jobs because the Jonesville Gadget Factory can’t get copper, steel, zinc, or aluminum; that the gadget factory has certain specific machinery and that certain items can be used in tooling steel for a gun carriage or metal for a bomber, or castings for a tank, or whatever.” (14) A plan to retain American workers: “The men from the filling stations and the gadget factories, the soldiers who are released from the Army, and the skilled workmen who have been producing automobiles, washing machines, and the other useful implements of a high-standard-of-living nation, are turning rapidly into defense workers.” (16)”
Ingalls, Albert G., 1941.
“Neat little gadget for mounting a diagonal in a Newtonian reflector is shown in Figure 5, which is self explanatory (“Hua-i neng ta ch’ien yen,” or, picture’s meaning can ex press a thousand words, in case your Chinese has become rusty). Developed by Max Burgdorf, Natchitoches, Louisiana, and made by Lorane Brittain and Sherwood Burgdorf, it takes the place of the more customary spider support for diagonals and would cause a less complicated diffraction pattern than the latter.”
Caldwell, Erskine and Margaret Bourke-White, 1941.
“With all these built-in gadgets the camera looks lie ka Lilliputian anti-aircraft position detector, and five months went into its construction. But the desired result has been achieved–that of combining the quick-working facilities of the Speed Graphic with the advantage of changing from one focal length to another…”
Rathbone, A.D., 1941.
“When you look at the gun illustrated below, note particularly the two little gadgets shown under the barrel and the similar gadget on the end of the barrel. The gun itself is a 20-gage, bolt-action, repeating shotgun with detachable clip of two-shot capacity–and a third in the chamber, if desired. But the three little gadgets comprise the crux of this story, for they are machined choke tubes, easily and quickly interchangeable, thereby producing a three-shot scattergun with full choke, modified choke, or improved cylinder choke, as may be desired. And by shooting the gun without any tube attached, you get a true cylinder which, although offering no control over the pattern, is still preferred by some shooters.”
Peck, James H.L., 1941.
“He must sit cramped and alone in the narrow confines of his gadget-filled quarters for hours at a time. He is often cold, having only the shelter of thin plastic or glass walls to protect him from the frigid temperatures of high altitudes. His often-tense body be comes numb from the bomber’s vibration; particularly so if his post is in a tail turret, but he must fight off torpidity as he would enemy planes.”
Sheppard, C.W., 1941.
“This strange way of speaking can best be explained if we know what was going on in their minds during that time. Suppose, they said, that one could bombard the nuclei of atoms with charged particles. To obtain these, the experimenter would take simple atoms such as hydrogen, or helium, and knock off the outer electrons by throwing them violently around in an electrical discharge or in some other way. The gadget in which this “knocking off” process occurred would be connected to a large, highly evacuated glass or porcelain “accelerating tube.” The particles could be led into this tube and, by the application of high voltage, could be accelerated or shot against a target covered with the atoms of the element to be investigated.”
Ingalls, Albert G., 1941.
“William Buchele, 2832 Sagamore Road, Toledo, 0., sends us the photo graphs shown in Figure 4 and says: “This is a gadget for testing at the focus with a fiat. Light source is a lOO-watt projection lamp. Its housing has cooling flanges to prevent the lamp from overheating. A thin silvered diagonal reflects light through a hole in the fiat, it returns from the glass under test, and passes through the diagonal, thus permitting the light source and the eye to be in the same train simultaneously. The gadget has a micrometer screw feed. The dark upright strip in the center is a graduated system of fine and coarse pinholes and slits. There is also an eyepiece, knife-edge and Ronchi grating holder, with lateral rack and pinion feed.””
Ingalls, Albert G., 1941.
“It’s a lot of fun, as any amateur telescope maker will tell you, to invent, design, and then build gadgets to save labor, even if the actual labor saving is minus quantity. You get your pay when you can step aside and watch them function automatically, with a self-satisfied grin on your face. Who cares about time, anyway. / Top-flight position as Public Gadgeteer No. 1 undoubtedly has now been won by Kenneth Richter, 33 Clarence Ave., Bridgewater, Mass, whose star camera works while he sleeps. It is in storage just now, as Richter is away at Harvard and in summer is running a “Chromocinemataudiographic Expedition, Ltd.’ (possibly ‘limited’ refers to the funds) somewhere between hudson Bay and the N. Pole. Nevertheless we invited him to remove the bushel from off its light, so the rest of us could see its glimmer. / “The desire for the instrument was born of the fact that we have but two seasons in Bridgewater-the cold sea son and the mosquito season, and both are too uncomfortable for visual guiding of an astronomical camera. Therefore, about a year’s work was spent overcoming the discomfort of attend ing the camera throughout the night the exposure is made automatically. / At about dark, I go out, lift the cover off the instrument, and pull out the plate holder slide against a stop. Next, I go in and set a clock by my bedside for the time I want the exposure to start, also for the length of time it is to run. Then I work on a mirror, take the girl friend to a movie (though building the thing kept me so broke that this is just wishful thinking) or I go to bed. / At, say, 2 A.M., the clock turns on the power. Outside, the camera springs to life. A small motor swings the flap shutter open, and an electro magnet holds it thereafter when the small motor has shut itself off by breaking its own circuit just as the shutter strikes the magnet. The latter is energized by a radio ‘A’ eliminator, to avoid the vibration of the camera that would result from the use of an A.C. magnet. This is a satis factory source of 6-v., D.C., well filtered. Meanwhile a synchronous motor drive, using one of the hen’s-teeth 4-watt Warren motors, has started to apply the diurnal motion. […] While almost all the gadgets are simple enough to be foolproof in operation, the drive frequently messes up the work. Other than that, one might say that it saves me probably 2 hours’ work a week. The number of hours required to build the machine would, of course, swallow up this saving for several years. However, I don’t even try to justify it as a net, over-all time saver. It isn’t.”
“Picnics, future or past, are the only ones which everyone thoroughly enjoys. Of the two, the picnic-to-be offers limitless possibilities this year. Never has there been such a collection of picnic gadgets. Never has there been such enticing picnic literature. / The photographs on these and following pages are an abbreviated catalog of modern picnic paraphenalia. There are suitcases which are transformed into a table and benches, collapsible water buckets, asbestos gloves, aprons whihc become cushions, aprons with pot-holders, aprons for autographs, spits for shish kebabs, molds for hamburgers, grills for frankfurters, barbecue grills on wheels, cutlery kits, fitted cases with non-spillable salt cellars, constant bug sprayers, and dozens of other silly and practical devices.”
Peck, James H.L., 1941.
“Before you realize it the big Douglas C-39 transport is settling to earth. Here at the air depot are bigger and better hangars; better, in that they are equipped with most of the gadgets and machinery found in an aircraft factory, even to the expensive machine tools huge planers, millers, lathes, and grinders. Inside the hangar there are several craft in various stages of construction or destruction. The sergeant explains there are two classes of jobs done here at the de pot: FWT rebuilding jobs, and the reclamation of wrecks. FWT, he says, means “fair, wear and tear,” the wear due to normal service.”
Asimov, Isaac, 1941.
““I’m afraid,” put in Cutie himself at this point, “that my firends obey a higher one than you, now.” / “The hell they do! You get out of here. I’ll settle with you later and with these animated gadgets right now.” / Cutie shook his heavy head slowly. “I’m sorry, but you don’t understand. These are robots–and that means they are reasoning beings. They recognize the Master, now that I have preached Truth to them. All the robots do. They call me the prophet.” His head drooped. “I am unworthy–but perhaps–””
Stratton, Gladys E, 1942.
“[Stratton stressed that with factory conversion the housewife must be “conscious that she may have to keep her present supply of equipment and appliances for the duration or go without.” Stratton further warned women that their carelessness in conservation would only result in a greater burden for themselves. For example, unless a housewife had access to natural ice, she would have “no refrigeration after the mechanical icebox stops mnning. When the toaster goes dead, the electric orange squeezer gives up the ghost - breakfast will take that much longer to prepare. Have no hope it can be any different… unless we make the usefulness of our household goods outlast the length of the war.”]”
** Sidford, A.J., 1942.**
“…metal parts, have been added many small ‘gadgets’ of abrasive cloth–little devices for use on portable and flexible shaft machines. In many cases they do in seconds what used to require minutes by hand methods…”
Browne, D. Bennion, 1942.
“The very names ‘dash’ or ‘splash’ board, which, it is believed, were synonymous as applied to earlier vehicles automatically explain the original intended use of this particular part of a vehicle body. That is to say, it was the barrier erected between the horse as the means of propulsion and the passengers carried in the vehicle so propelled. The only instrument likely to be found on these earliest vehicles was possibly a dashboard clock.” … “There appear to have been over a period of years two schools of thought of as regards dashboard equipment, the first extreme being in the direction of fitting the dashboard with almost every conceivable form of gadget which the ingenuity of man has devised, amongst these instruments and knobs being some of the essential ones and many nonessential ones. A rough list would comprise speedometer, clock. petrol gauge, revolution counter, oil pressure gauge, water thermometer, oil thermometer, ammeter, starter switch and light switches, dynamo-charging warning light, oil pressure warning light, cigar lighter, car heater, radio and choke controls, brake self-servo warning light, octane selector, and even such devices as trafficator indicators, time switch for lights, battery level indicators, radiator water level indicators, and possibly others which do not come to mind at the moment. Even some of these have not been commercially produced.”
Peck, James L. H., 1942.
“Navy ingenuity is not confined to these larger items [i.e. aircraft carriers]; any number of important devices and much aircraft material were conceived and developed by the Bureau of Aeronautics. Included is the carrier arresting gear, very secret and said to be finest in use anywhere; flotation gear to, keep both plane and pilot afloat after emergency landings; the Sperry bombing sight, which gained fame in Army hands, but which was originally built to Navy specifications; a vital process for corrosion-proofing of aircraft metals; and many important gadgets and instruments which are the brain children of the design and engineering divisions of the Naval Aircraft Factory.”
Lescarboura, Austin C., 1942.
“The simplicity of cold-cathode fluorescent lighting is another basic reason for the growing popularity of this form of illumination. There are no accessories or starting gadgets of any sort required. Just the tubing and the transformer complete the equipment proper. When the power switchis closed, the tubing lights up instantly, at full illumination. There is no delay, no sputtering, no flickering. With the absence of starters or accessories, there is virtually nothing to get out of order.”
Ingalls, Albert G., 1942.
“Drive clean, simple, free from gadgets and hickerpickers, made by N.J. Schell, 1019 Third Avenue, Beaver Falls, Pa., is shown in Figure 5. Asked to describe it, Schell writes: ‘The drive is used with an equatorial which has for its upper polar bearing a large cast iron flange, or plate, which rolls on two ball-bearing rollers (Porters design, I believe). I found it would be necessary to re-build the whole thing if a worm-wheel was to be used, so tried using a thin band or belt of phosphor-bronze (continuous) which passes around both rollers and under the large flange. This band is just taut when the weight is on it.”
““Getting Acquainted With Electricity. By Alfred Morgan. “ Aimed at the average man who frequently finds himself slightly bewildered by the innumerable electric gadgets in his home, in his automobile, and in his place of business the text of this book is phrased in laymen’s language that makes painless reading”
“From now on we shall see a rapid development of electronic gadgeteering–the non-radio application of radio technique–according to Charley Golenpaul, of the Aerovox Corporation. / “I believe the era of electronic gadgeteering is now opening up in a big way,” states Mr. Golenpaul. “In the first place, the ban on amateur radio communications is not going to leave the enterprising ‘ham’ twirling his thumbs. Of course many ‘hams’ are already or will soon be in our armed and technical services. Many will find wartime jobs with other United Nations. But those remaining on the home front are going to put their experience, equipment, and ambition to work on new and startling applications in the home, shop, factory, and elsewhere, far removed from customary radio practice. / “I suppose most radio men have heretofore been too busy with radio proper to find extra time and energy for non-radio or electronic gadgeteering possibilities. However, many of them now are going to use their ‘rigs’ and parts for new functions. I can visualize some interesting developments – light-beam telephones for conversing over considerable distances; automatic photo-electric garage-door openers; photo-electric switches turning lights on and off with darkness or daylight; checking the stoking of furnaces or boilers by the chimney smoke; various comparators or instruments for comparing and matching colors and shades; checking solution concentrations and chemical studies by conductivity means; and so on. / “As a starter, electronic gadgeteering can be based on well-known elementary principles and basic circuits long known to radio amI electrical workers. Many industrial plants are already electronic-gadget conscious. I know of radio servicemen who’ve got ten themselves good jobs in plants he cause of their ability to do things better, quicker, and less expensively by electronic means. / “Make no mistake about it, the temporary suspension of ‘ham’ communications may well turn out to he a boost. It will generate a lively interest in electronic gadgeteering. And when ‘ham’ communications are resumed again with the return of peace, I venture to predict that electronic gadgeteering will comprise a greater field for radio parts, particularly the quality or extra-heavy-duty components, than all amateur radio activities put together. Furthermore, many a ‘ham’ will find an interesting way of making real money out of his hobby, and that’s something.””
Klemin, Alexander, 1943.
“Our fighter planes are almost as fast, and certainly as well protected and armed as any in the world, and are provided with every instrument, accessory, or gadget that it is possible to think of. These planes also are exceedingly robust-far more robust that the almost “delicate” Zero, for example. There has, however, been a tendency in American fighter design to use too much strength and weight, too many gadgets, instruments, and accessories, and finally, to load the wing, in pounds per square foot, to very high values. The result is they lack, perhaps, in maneuverability-the ability to roll, or to dive very rapidly when detaching them selves from the enemy.”
Machester, Harland, 1943.
“Jesse also invented a mowing machine which he sold to McCormick, a whistling buoy, and practical joke gadgets. Taking a fancy to Simon, Uncle Jesse brought him into his foundry and taught him to use tools. That shop was Simon Lake’s university.”
Jennings, Richard, 1943.
“A pang of regret touched many hearts when the news of the death of Dr Thorndyke, the famous forensic medico, was published a few weeks ago. (I mean of course the death of Austin Freeman; in first-rate detective fiction, the creator is annihilated by his creation.) It was not easy to become intimate with Thorndyke. He was a robot of induction–always strong against romantic investigation. He distrusted intuition. His technical knowledge was so wide and so minute that on occasion he became a bit of a bore with it. Yet he never showed off about it. He used to quietly say: ‘We may as well.’ and then do things, incomprehensible to the layman, with dusting powders, refined chemicals and portable gadgets, which were carried by his assistant, Polton, in what must have been a compressible box–one of those cases you can squash when they begin to bulge. Had Thorndyke no close friend? He had one. What was the friend’s name? I know, because I have just looked it up. It was Jarvis. I had forgotten it. Jarvis was nobody. Austin Freeman disdained character-creation.”
“…gadgets that are being foisted upon the school budget were the inventions of teachers, growing out of their needs, I would try to appreciate them. But they are in truth, in most cases, being resisted by the teachers and they are…”
Ingalls, Albert G., 1943.
““These are the preliminary adjustments. When these are complete, I should start collimating from both ends, and meet in the middle. Insert the main mirror and line up so that the optical axis coincides with the cross-wires. Insert accurate cross-wires at the inner end of the declination axis (c, Figure 1). A cap should be provided for the eyepiece adapter tube, with a small hole in the exact center. Such a cap can easily be made of tin, and is a very useful gadget.” […] Again, all this is largely of general interest, alone, to the average amateur, because the necessary furnace is seldom available. Gemmill states that homemade blower could be rigged up with an oil burner and some sort of retort. Again we have the intangible factor of fun pottering with gadgets, and when some too practical-minded critic comes along to remark, ‘Does it pay?’ you say ‘No,’–and go on pottering, leaving him shaking his head. He will never understand the mainsprings of the experimental urge.””
Evans, Idrisyn Oliver, 1944.
“It’s too bad though, that so many Scouts never realize that this same roll of adhesive tape can play an important part in repairing almost any piece of equipment or in rigging up gadgets to make outdoor life more comfortable.”
Stowe, Leland, 1944.
“The New Deal, intervening at a moment of national economic collapse, improvised a number of gadgets, and some of them — as was to be expected – worked badly or not at all. Some of these gadgets also raised cries of horror on the grounds that they were ‘socialistic.’ The Tennessee Valley Autority was one of these innovations which a great many citizens denounced as being un-American, an affront to free enterprise…”
“The Saturday morning session opened with an announcement by George Moore on the winners of the gadget contest. A total of five gadgets was submitted but it is believed that if traveling conditions had been better a larger number would have been submitted because there is always considerable interest shown in this contest. … The winning gadgets submittd and their order in the contest are as follows: / The lime slacking machine sumbitted by Harold R. Fanning … who is Superintendent of Sanitation and Bendix Aviation Corporation, received first place. / The sludge sampler submitted by… received second place. / The diagram of the sludge sampler submitted … was third choice of the membership. / Following the announcement regarding the gadget contest winners, Morrish Cohn of Schenectady pointed out the need of this nation for more money to conduct this war and appealed to everybody to buy an extra War Bond in the Fifth War Bond Drive.”
Pitkin, Walter B., 1945.
“Be sensible. Get wise to the new gadgets and use them!’ say the youngsters of today. … ‘I can’t hear a sound, except through my skull and with this gadget.’ He pointed to his bone-conduction hearing aid.””
““And that’s where this gadget business comes in.” “Maybe you have a number of your own pet gadget ideas which may be converted into checks this week. There are several pointers I can give you as to the nature of what the publications are accepting now. Of course all gadgets calling for…” “However, the dime stores, hardware stores and notion stores are literally filled with gadget items which had their origin in quarter page write-ups with pen and ink illustrations, later ot be seen by some manufacturer and adopted in his regular line or put on the market as a new item.” “Another lock stunt was included in the lot – (7) a bar of wood which fits over the cooking stove gas knobs so that junior could not turn on the gas when dad was in the front room buried in Dick Tracy. The final gadget idea of the group was (8) a rubber ball impinged over the valve of the radiator so that spouting steam would not ruin the wallpaper…” (21)”
Cox, Doris E. and Barbara Warren Weismann, 1945.
“Glamorous Gadgets: The formal bag gives one the opportunity to indulge in a bit of whimsy. As stated before, it should be small, and it may be frivolous. For that reason a little bag of unusual character will be described here.” (124). “…eyelet embroidery of raisins or any other decoration one’s fancy might dictate. Interesting textures or designs can be made with the tines of a fork, toothpick or any other gadget found in the kitchen that would leave an interesting impression when pressed in the dough.” (265)”
Barsschak, Erna, 1945.
“…hanging curtains, taking off storm windows and putting in screens–and enjoying all the gadgets she can lay hands on. Incidentally, Europeans are not clever with these gadgets” (45). “Besides learning about institutions and gadgets there had been much to learn about offices and titles and organizations.”
“What makes you think all the intricate gadgets and ingenious devices in your home are something new? Though he didn’t have electricity, great-grandfather outfitted his house with the same kind of labor savers. Those shown here are from the collection of Bartlett Hayes, displayed at the Phillips Addison Gallery in Andover, Mass., and at the museum of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.”
Evans, U. R., 1945.
“When a chemist or engineer has to decide whether he can obtain an improvement in a process by introducing some modification of practice, for instance, by the adoption of some ‘gadget,’ he performs two sets of trials, one employing the gadget (or its equivalent) and the other omitting it, and then compares the results.”
Huxley, Aldous, 1945.
“That is why the would-be mystic is always told to refrain from busying himself with matters which do not refer to his ultimate goal, or in relation to which he cannot effectively do immediate and concrete good. This self-denying ordinance covers most of the things with which, outside business hours, the ordinary person is mainly preoccupied–news, the day’s installment of the various radio epics, this year’s car models and gadgets, the latest fashions. But it is upon fashions, cars and gadgets, upon news and the advertising for which news exists, that our present industrial and economic system depends for its proper functioning. For, as ex-President Hoover pointed out not long ago, this system cannot work unless the demand for non-necessaries is not merely kept up, but continually expanded.”
Flesch, Rudolf Franz, 1946.
“The scientists began some years ago to discover the real nature of unreadability. Dr. Flesch is here trying something that goes beyond diagnostic studies and is probably more difficult. He is offering sound and practical ‘rules’ for producing the readable kind of writing, stepping out of the role of scientist and becoming a teacher and giving a good example of the skill he is trying to teach” (x). Time magazine calls Flesch (as quoted on dustjacket) “Mr. Fix-It of writing.” Language gadgets used to distinguish concrete words (“apple”) from abstract ones (“democracy”)? * * * “For language consists of two parts: the things we say and the machinery by which we say them. To express our thoughts, as we have seen, we use sentences; and we cannot express a thought by any single word unless it is able to do the work of a sentence if necessary. So we can tell the meaningful words apart from the mere language machinery by the sentence test: if a word can form a sentence, it refers to something outside language; if it cannot, it is just a language gadget. This has nothing to do with abstractness and concreteness: it is a linguistic difference. For instance, the abstract word sin can be sued as a sentence, as in the famous answer to the question ‘What was the sermon about?’ But the next question, ‘What did the preacher say?’ had to be answered by a whole sentence: ‘He was against it.’ ‘Against’ by itself wouldn’t do as an answer; neither would dis- for ‘He disapproved of it.’ That’s because against and dis- are examples of language gadgets; they have no meaning except combined with meaningful words in a sentence. / Now, the point of all this is that difficult, complex, abstract language is cluttered up with gadgets. If we stick to this purely linguistic test, we can measure difficulty by counting gadgets, and we can simplify out speech and writing by throwing them out. / Language gadgets, as you have seen, are of two kinds: words by themselves, like against, and parts of words (Affixes), like dis-. The more harmful of the two for plain talk are the affixes, since the reader or hearer cannot understand what the gadget does to the sentence before he has disentangled it from the word it is attached to. Each affix burdens his mind with two jobs: first, he has to split up the word into tis parts and, second, he has to rebuild the sentence from these parts. To do this does not even take a split second, of course; but it adds up””
Whittaker, Wayne, 1946.
“Plastics’ postwar garb is man-size stuff worthy of materials that can swing their weight around in the industrial big leagues. … In view of these facts, can you blame the industry for being a little irate over any interpretation of plastics as something out of which lipstick holders and all sorts of gadgets are made? … ‘Let’s not talk about new plastic gadgets,’ pleaded a spokesman for the Dow Chemical Company recently. ‘Every manufacturer is being pushed at the present time to produce enough plastics for practical purposes.””
“America’s thousands of backyard- and basement-workshop gadgeteers have now had a full two years out from under wartime restrictions. They have made good use of their time, as the pictures on this and the following page show. The nation is being deluged with a profusion of gadgets the like of which has never before been seen. To the most mechanically minded country on earth this gadget deluge is good, clean and long-overdue fun.”
“Credit for the various gadgets developed by the scientific fraternity during the war has been generously given by military men. But they know, and we know, that the war was mainly fought and won with the weapons available at the beginning of the war. We had developed an imposing array of ‘trick devices’ by V-J Day, but how much better it would have been, how many lives and how much money could have been saved had these devices been ready at the start of hostilities! … “Next time the gadgets must be ready when the shooting starts.”
“No gadget pleases Mrs. Ostraberg [fictional family of the future] more than her company table cloth, which looks like a fine piece of damask but can be wiped of like oil cloth, if anything spills. … “Fred’s work in running the shoe-store is a satisfactory ‘creative outlet’; he is usually content after work to relax. The gadgets available for his relaxation are myriad, but he takes them less seriously than the Ostrabergs because to him they are relatively less important. / The Wilcoxes do not have fancy gadgets. But fish are biting in Georgia as in Indiana… In Georgia, of course, there are two races of people, white and black, and they do not always share the same sports or parks and playgrounds; but there is better provision for both races than there had been in 1940. Wilcox can already count a good many improvements which have come about in 20 years. Wilcox is a Negro.””
Sleeper, Catherine and Harold Reeve Sleeper, 1948.
“A basic American trait is the keen desire to perfect new gadgets. Those of us who cannot boast of inventions can at least get pleasure out of owning and operating a gadget, whether it is a new can opener or an air conditioner. We are so accustomed to new, unbelievable mechanical equipment that nothing seems beyond the realm of possibility for our houses.” “A window is perhaps the most gadget-adaptable spot in a house.”
“Men receive sturdy, practical gadgets which they will prize. All are designed to answer a man’s need for something he has wanted. Generally his gifts will lean toward the mechanical or business side. At any rate, you can bet he’ll be happy with a membership in the Gadget-of-the-Month Club.” “Women receive useful, colorful and practical gadgets which they can use around the house, or perhaps on their person. Some gadgets have been unique household tools which have miraculously solved culinary headaches. Women are among the most enthusiastic members of the Gadget-of -the-Month Club.” Later, ad for “war surplus gadgets, heater relays, radio test filaments, electric trains, house chimes, etc.” Ad for “Gadget Mix,” $1.19 a bag. Another ad for “Catalog of 7000 Novelties.” “World’s biggest catalog of amazing gifts, novelties, gadgets, fun makers”
Waldrop, Arther Gayle, 1948.
“Still in their infancy–in an experimental stage according to Gallup and other poll leaders–these polls have been variously described. The Pulse of Democracy was the title of Gallup’s book in 1940. ‘The saviors of democracy’ was the appraisal of one University of Chicago professor; ‘a social gadget’ was the epithet of another professor of the same university. ‘A measure of our social illiteracy is the appropriate phrase, according to a leader in adult education. Other descriptors include ‘seismograph of public opinion’; ‘an extra-legal anticipation of election verdicts’; periodical and persistent auditor of public opinion.”
Boone, Andrew R., 1948.
“More than 400,000 Americans are shelling out from one to five dollars apiece to dip their hands into a ly, mail-order grab bag. What will come out each month no one knows until the wrapping is off. All they know is that it will be some gadget representing the latest mechanical effort to make life a little easier, safer, or more fun. / What they get depends on whether they have sent in $1.00 for a six-month trial or $5.00 for a year’s subscription to a dozen bigger and better gadgets. It may be a comb with a removable wick in its base, a powder fire extinguisher that doesn’t deteriorate, or a window-sash burglar alarm. / The gadgets are selected and distributed by the Gadget-of-the-Month Club, Los Angeles, Calif. Anyone can submit an item for distribution. There are only three requirements: it must be new, must be patented or patent-applied-for, and must never have been distributed nationally. A jury screens out the best bets, which are then sampled by 15,000 members of the Consumers’ Testing League.” a different list for men and women, “since the men would hardly go for kitchen gimcracks, and the ladies could not be expected to rave about a razor guaranteed to shave under the nose.” … “Springing from the desire of 23 manufacturers to find customers for war-developed items, the club was organized in 1943. Now the National Inventors Assn. and the national Gadgets Mfg. Assn. are joining with the club to stage a National Gadget Week in late April. They plan to establish a community in California called ‘Gadgetville,’ where inventors can live and perfect their ideas. In addition, ‘gadget nooks’ will be placed in retail stores across the nation, with a new item featured every week. The nation will become more gadget-conscious than ever if these enterprising gadgeteers have their way.”
“Quite literally, the chassis is the foundation of any electronic gadget. It’s the place where you hang all the parts. You can bend it up out of tomato cans, cut it from a breadboard, or use the orthodox kind that you buy in radio stores.”
Carpenter, W.H., 1948.
“In his laboratory rink Rawson demonstrated the proper functioning of the roller skate. The sake is attached to one of his gadgets which shows the flexible action of the skate when the weight of the body is shifted to the outside and then to the inside. You are then taken to another gadget with a platform just big enough to accommodate one person. Once on this gadget there are two arms that clamp firmly about your hips so that they are held firm. However, your limbs from the hips down are free, as is the upper part of your body. Your hands then grasp the handles about waist high. You are instructed to stand straight and close to the upright part of the gadget but to avoid stiffness. Once these instructions are carried out Rawson snaps an electric switch and you swing like the pendulum of a clock. This gadget conveys the action of the lean, and the beginner readily learns the feel and the meaning of the lean which he will apply later when the skates have been attached to his feet.”
“Everybody has his own pet idea of some gadget he would like to see in general use. What is YOURS? Popular Science will pay $5.00 for each one published. Use government postcards only. Contributions cannot be acknowledged or returned.”
Baker, Bill, 1948.
“Charlie Halligan and Billy Newcomb are doing okay with gadgets in Spencer, Ia., according to Eddie E. Gillespie, who also reports that he has heard that Glen Hosberg is on the sick list. … Al (Pop) Adams, former partner with Stanley Naldrett in the operation of numerous gadget layouts, has returned to the pitch game after an absence of five years. He’s currently operating his gadget stand on the Pacific Coast to reported big geedus counts. … Following a stay of many months, Stanley Naldrett closed his gadget bar in Silver’s store, Birmingham, September 30, and headed for Chicago where he plans to visit briefly and cut up a few jackies. He will reopen his gadget layout in the Birmingham store January 3.”
“I can model a gadget in clay and call in a draftsman and explain to him just what I need.’” “When he has a gadget–his own word for the machines and tools he invents–worked out in his mind, he calls in a draftsman and his thin, half-paralyzed hands pick up the modeling clay.”
“New crop includes everything from retrievers to mirrors to help the duffer approach par. In the perennial pursuit of par, America’s three million golfers spend $40 million annually for equipment. A surprisingly large proportion of this money goes for the scores of ingenious gadgets which are supposed to help every duffer hit his tee shot a little farther, get on the green a little sooner, and putt a little bit straighter. While some of these gadgets help lower the golfer’s score, others soothe his sensitive nerves, like the ‘Retrevit’ which makes it simple to fish a poorly hit ball out of a stream. In spite of the expenditures of cash and energy, however, less than .5% of all the golfers in the U.S. can shoot on par or under.”
“Pulling power of radio was dramatically demonstrated recently when a client, Gadget of the Month Club, was all but snowed under by tremendous response to plugs bought thru the spot sales department of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Gadget of the Month, via blurbs on the web’s managed, owned and represented stations, was getting around 15,000 responses daily on its offer of gadgets for a small sum of money. Lacking a national distribution setup, the firm fell far behind on deliveries–which resulted in stations getting plenty of squawks from listeners. For a time some stations were afraid they’d have to take a loss and refund moola to listeners, but it’s claimed that the company is now caught up on deliveries. According to Don Davis of the agency of Davis, Harrison, & Simonds, Gadgets of the Month has now bought time on 350 outlets. For a time, however, stations were plenty jittery. Tex McCrary, for instance, on WNBC, NBC’s New York key, asked listeners to let him known if they had failed to receive their gadgets.”
Cohen, I. Bernard, 1948.
“The homely Philadelphian, often treated by historians as a politician with a spare-time interest in gadgets, was actually one of the great experimental scientists. […] It is often said that Franklin’ was typically American in his approach to science-a utilitarian interested in science chiefly, if not solely, because of its practical applications. It is true that when he had discovered the action of pointed grounded conductors and proved that clouds are electrified, he applied these discoveries to the invention of the lightning rod. But he did not make these discoveries in order to invent a lightning rod! Franklin’s inventions were of two kinds. One type was pure gadgetry; in this class were his inventions of bifocal glasses, which required no recondite knowledge of optical principles, and of a device for taking books down from the shelf without getting up from one’s chair. The lightning rod, on the other hand, developed from pure scientific research. If Franklin’s approach to science had been strictly utilitarian, it is doubtful that he would ever have studied the subject of electricity at all. In the 18th century there was only one practical application of electricity, and that was the giving of electric shocks for therapeutic purposes, chiefly to cure paralysis.”
Jones, Hilton Ira, 1948.
“A new gadget enables a mother to give a child a shampoo without danger of getting soap in its eyes and consequently without the usual session of struggle and tears. With this contraption the child reclines in a comfortable position while its mother has both hands free to do the shampooing. The gadget can be placed on the kitchen drainboard, or in or over a bath tub.”
Ingalls, Albert G., 1949.
“In 1944 he wrote, “I often wonder how privileged I am out here, at my age, Whenever I want something I go to the optical or machine shop and find every thing at my disposal. If I get into a jam for a gadget there’s always someone to say, ‘Let me do it for you.’”
Hoover, Herbert, 1949.
“The mildest form of corrupt propaganda is a process of persuasive part-truths. […] The machinery of propaganda is made of standardized gadgets by which you can detect it. One of these standard gadgets is slogans. The freeze the real process of thought. […] One of these gadgets is to create fear by describing the horrors of invasion of the United States by foreign armies. This one always arises to its maximum decibel when pressuring legislation and elections. While aircraft can come our way no armies on earth can land on our shores. Another gadget is to give new meaning to old, simple, and well-understood expressions until the integrity of our language is polluted. The term ‘liberalism’ has turned pink inside. The term ‘welfare’ never breofre meant the ‘welfare state’ with its red or pink colors. […] You can test malignant propaganda from another of its gadgets. That is the smear. This gadget has wide potency.” (114-15). “Debate founded on the full disclosure of the whole truth and free of these gadgets is the stuff that can save free men.” “it was the engineer with his household gadgets. Sometimes the engineer will be needed to put truth into propaganda. But I am getting off the track of amiability.” (185) “
“The Gadgets: The five-year stage of the program, scheduled to be in full operation by the winder of 1953-54, calls for the installation and standard use of nine major weather-beating devices. … “Because ILS has some drawbacks, it will be supplemented with this descendant of a wartime invention–again a gadget already in use on a limited scale. … With widespread use of these and the other gadgets, plus a few lesser improvements, SC-31 [the plan] declares that weather hazards will be pretty much under control.”
DuBridge, Lee A., 1949.
“The effects of war on science itself were also both good and bad. Unfortunately, the spectacular achievements of the war years led many people to believe that the sole function of science was to develop either weapons of war or the gadgets of peace. Radar, rockets, and the atomic bomb, together with plastic automobiles, nuclear power plants, and television sets were regarded as the sole products of science, the reason for its existence, or the chief currency with which to measure its value.” Example: “A steel mill is built to make steel. As the bars of steel come out of the mill the ear not labeled as to whether they shall be used for battleships or tanks or trucks or guns or plows. Steel is a raw material. It will be fabricated into whatever structures, gadgets, devices, or weapons are most in demand at the moment.” “Too often we judge the value of knowledge by the new machines or gadgets or weapons it provides. But a more far-reaching effect of knowledge is its effects on men’s minds.” “
Pashko, Stanley, 1949.
“His construction accomplishments since then read like the listing of equipment for a Buck Rodgers laboratory. Walk into his private sanctum and you’ll spy weird, impressive-looking gadgets. Among other things, he has built a photo voltaic electric eye, a large solenoid, monometric flame, code recorder, stroboscope, cathode ray oscilloscope, a two-inch refracting telescope, a Tesla coil, and many motors. … His skill and imagination devised such things as his cathode ray oscilloscope, an intricate gadget ordinarily found only in the laboratories of professional scientists and engineers. … When Nick began to show interest in the workings of mechanical gadgets by taking them apart, then miraculously putting them together without having a piece or two left over, the neighborhood friends and relatives began to help out. Nick was delighted, although his mother probably had some mental reservations when these friends began to unload worn-out gadgets, machinery, mechanical relics, and the dusty burden of attics, cellars and garages. The creative ability of Nick turned most of this ‘junk’ into something useful to himself.”
Lynde, H. H., 1949.
“He tried to sell insurance of a while after that… ‘on commission’ again. Unquote! Then he’d taken on some electric appliances and gadgets, house to house. But people didn’t want gadgets. What’s more, housewives got so sick of opening the door to real panhandlers they got so they wouldn’t open them to anybody have the time.”
“Haufe built his gadget from odds and ends of telephone and radio equipment and war-surplus materials. The game is played on the conventional field of nine squares formed by two…” [And yet, two pages earlier] “X-Rays help only a little in spotting gallstones, since most are transparent to X-rays. But a new electronic gadget has come to the rescue of anxious surgeons. The instrument, called a cholelithophone, has a thin, flexible probe which the surgeon inserts in narrow ducts.”
“There are several little ‘gadgets’ and household articles which suddenly reappear on sale… …spring gadgets, one of which is shown in Figure 1. They fit over the needle and needle-clamp; the advertising claims that they make it convenient and easily possible to darn, sew on buttons, make buttonholes, applique, do quilting, attach zippers, and overcast seams on the machine.”
“A gadget is a device for doing something that nobody knew needed doing until a gadget was invented to do it. As Actor Clifton Webb found out, discovering what a new gadget actually does is not always easy. When Don Davis of the Gadget-of-the-Month Club of Los Angeles, Calif., which sends a gimmick monthly to half a million subscribers, handed Webb the enigmatic tubular gizmo shown here, Webb was nonplused. Nevertheless he accepted the challenge of figuring out what it was. For 20 minutes he struggled manfully to make it do something useful without ever tumbling to its real purpose. He twisted it and turned it, applying it to various parts of his anatomy with no success. Finaly he even tried to make it fit his dog. Then, baffled and frustrated, he gave up. But Webb did learn the doodad’s proper use eventually, just as can anyone else by turning the page.” … “It’s a bathtub cane to prevent oldsters, cripples and cautious people from slipping. Impressed with what he saw, Webb wanted one for his mother.”
Farioletti, Marius, 1949.
“Sampling is more than a statistician’s gadget. It is a twentieth century tool of management used to handle mass production and management jobs realistically and effectively. Sampling is a relatively precise method of estimating group characteristics and patterns of characteristics at low cost.”